Is Barack Obama the most pro-Israel president in history?

Israel/Palestine
on 14 Comments

Amir Mizroch, an ex-editor of the Jerusalem Post and current editor of the right-wing Israel Hayom, recently called President Obama’s UN speech “the most pro-Israel speech [he thinks] anyone has heard at that world forum for a very long time.” Of course, this stands in stark contrast to the various folk who are trying to paint Obama as an Israel-hater. If there was any doubt about where the Obama administration stands, the UN speech should prove that the president is far more concerned with the desires of the Netanyahu government than the rights of the Palestinians people (or the various ways in which Obama’s pro-Israel stance is damaging American credibility.) Could it be wrong to suppose that Obama is one of the more pro-Israel presidents in history (particularly now that election season is approaching)?

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak certainly has nothing but positive things to say with how obsessed Obama is with Israeli security. In an interview on CNN (see video here), Barak effused appreciation for the Obama administration, saying:

I should tell you honestly that the Obama administration is backing the security of Israel — for which I’m responsible in our government — in a way that could hardly be compared to any previous administration… We know that part of it is out of the generosity and the far-sightedness of American presidents including President Obama.

“In a way that could hardly be compared to any previous administration.” Is Barak saying that Obama has done more for Israeli security that any previous American administration? It certainly seems that way, much to the dismay of those who try to paint the President as an enemy of Israel – as well as those who support the right of Palestinians to have their own independent state. (This could be a planned reaction to Israeli Opposition leader Tzipi Livni’s declaration that Netanyahu’s ‘diplomatic stupidity‘ had pushed the US into a corner.)

Obama’s Israeli credentials should now be safe. He stood up in front of the world and marched back from the declarations he made just one year earlier, refused to speak about Palestinian rights, denied any mention of 1967 borders, spoke only of Israeli security and blatantly put the United States on “the wrong side of history.

Unfortunately, according to the Leverett duo, Obama’s professions of dedication to Israel at the UN will do nothing to stop those who seek to try to use the Palestine issue to unseat the president:

Obama advanced a tired argument that American and Israeli elites who have no interest in an Israeli-Palestinian settlement have put forward for at least the past 20 years: that it is up to Israelis and Palestinians, “not us”, to want and find their way to a peace agreement. Obama’s posture completely begs what should be the foremost consideration for any American President: that the United States needs a credible Middle East peace process, which actually leads to a legitimate and sustainable peace, for its own interests. Even though this is what U.S. interests require, Obama is not prepared to do it—and only because Israel, under the Netanyahu government, does not want it…

And, while Obama abjures his responsibilities as the person (nominally) in charge of American foreign policy, for politically craven reasons, he is not even reaping any political benefit from it. Is Prime Minister Netanyahu now going to start telling his American supporters to help get Obama re-elected? Will his approval ratings in Israel or among ardently pro-Israel constituencies in the United States now go up? Will Rick Perry stop running to the right of Obama on Middle East issues?

So, despite Obama’s speech, it is unlikely that the Netanyahu government will move an inch on peace with Palestine (offering negotiations while continuing to colonize Palestinian land doesn’t count) and it would be a stretch to imagine Netanyahu coming out and openly thanking Obama for his support. Moreover, the UN speech will do little to help Obama in his upcoming reelection campaign as it displayed a picture of a president who is out of touch of the will of his people, is beholden to a lobby that pushes a policy that endangers American interests, and is easily pushed around.

Obama just delivered one of the most pro-Israel speeches that the UN had seen in years. Yet how can this possibly benefit President Obama, the United States or Israel/Palestine in any way? In some ways, it seems as if President Obama is in a no-win situation. He is forever marked as hostile to Israel, no matter what he does or says. But don’t feel bad for the president, as he is leading the US, Israel and the entire Middle East further into the rabbit hole. Obama has come a long way from the man who inspired hope for a lasting peace in the region only one year ago. Indeed, Obama has evolved from a president that symbolized hope (remember that peace prize?) into perhaps the most pro-Israel president the US and world has seen.

Chris Keeler is a freelance writer who covers the Middle East at the blog Notes From a Medinah. You can follow NFAM on Twitter @onthemiddleeast or Facebook.

    Leave a Reply